With the GX the big Fowler-style flaps are also new. They help bring the stall speed down well below even LSA's slow limitations. And as elsewhere, the high-quality German manufacturing is evident in the milled aluminum flap tracks and hinges.
While the airplane looks small and is, the interior is remarkably roomy. At around 5 feet 9 inches I'm no giant, but Chris is around 6 foot 3 inches, and there was plenty of room for him… and for our shoulders, which is a big improvement over the long-ago discontinued but still popular Cessna two-seat trainers.
Seat adjustment is a bit unusual. Instead of moving the seats to and fro on tracks to adjust them, you actually remove them entirely and put them back in a more comfortable place. In addition to the beefed-up gear previously mentioned, the latest update to the Remos GX, which is due out any time now, features interior upgrades, including a choice of fabrics (including leather), a smart upgrade for what is a premium LSA.
Folding Wings: Convenient and Odd
On one of the days that we were shut out of flying in Austin because of the weather (not a common occurrence, by the way), Chris and I had the luxury of taking a leisurely tour of the GX in one of Atlantic Aviation's big hangars. One of the first things he asked was if I wanted to try folding the wings. You betcha.
I was a little worried, as most pilots new to folding wings are, that, number one, I'd get it wrong and forget to attach a pin or something and the wings would fold up in flight (not a good way to spend a Wednesday). My other worry was simply that I'd manage to somehow break the airplane in the process of reconfiguring it.
I really needn't have worried, though. I won't say that folding the wings is a no-brainer; you do need some experience and you've got to be gentle, and it would be possible to damage the wing if you got careless with the process. But once I got the hang of it -- it takes two people and it is a bit like a dance -- it was pretty easy. And it is around as fast as advertised. We had both wings folded in less than 10 minutes, and that was with me having no previous experience doing it.
And folding the wings makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. Instead of renting a hangar, you could simply buy a toy hauler, stick the airplane in there, and take it to the airport when you want to fly it. In theory, the trailer would pay for itself before too long. And if you're keeping it at the airport, with the wings folded, you can share a very small slice of a very large hangar. If I were the FBO manager, I'd sure cut a deal for storing an airplane that took up about a quarter of the floor space of a Skyhawk.
The small size has other advantages. For instance, when I was taking the ground shots of the airplane at San Marcos (Texas) Airport and I needed the airplane in a different spot, I just had to ask Chris. One person can easily move the airplane, even up an incline. I tried that with my old Cherokee Six once, just once. The Remos, in contrast, is as close as you can get to a portable airplane.
Bumps and Grinds: Flying the GX
By definition, an LSA is going to offer a different kind of experience flying than a high-performance single or even most conventional fixed-gear singles. By regulation LSAs are small (two seats or one), light (sub 1,320 pounds), slow (120 knots max straight and level speed), and even slower (45 knots max stall speed). So what you get are airplanes that are small, in order to be light enough, while having fairly large wings, in order to keep them flying fairly slowly at the low end of the envelope. The usual effect is an airplane that feels a lot like the Piper Cubs and Aeronca Champs of the '30s and '40s, light on the controls and a bit kitey, as they say in ultralight circles.
Useful load is also an issue, and here the Remos GX, unlike a number of other LSAs, is up to the challenge. With an empty weight of just 670 pounds and a max weight of 1,320 pounds, the Remos GX has a useful load of 650 pounds. Top off the tank with 21 gallons of 100LL and you still have 524 pounds of payload. That's two big guys and some other stuff to throw in back. For a small airplane, that's mighty impressive.
One of my least favorite things about a lot of light airplanes is the split finger brakes they employ. For a lot of reasons, such as weight, design simplicity and ease of use, differential finger braking makes sense, but on the GX Remos has come up with a better idea. It does use finger brakes, or, I should say, a finger brake, but it adds nosewheel steering to the mix to make a supremely easy to operate and maneuverable little LSA.
Takeoff in the Remos is very different from that of most conventional light singles. Like a couple of other LSAs I've flown, it doesn't rotate as much as it levitates. Because of construction on the normally 9,000-foot-long 17L at KAUS, we had only 5,000 feet available for takeoff. That is many times the length needed by the Remos. With the two of us aboard and with full fuel, we were off in no time -- I watched the 1,000-foot aiming point sail by below us on takeoff. This is an airplane that doesn't so much need a runway as a small clear patch of land. Impressive.